Screen Shot: Ninja Gaiden II

If you’re like me, you shy away from games with crappy graphics. I don't care how dope someone says a game is, if I can't stand to look at it, I can't bring myself to play.

All I know is that when I saw the trailer for Ninja Gaiden II in HD, I almost teared up. It’s quite stunning visually, and the immediate reaction was “give me a controller!”

With a June 3 release date approaching, this game will be the perfect excuse to stay indoors under the air conditioner this summer with your Xbox. That is, if you're over 17 - this has a Mature rating for the violence and gore. It's definitely not child's play. Hell, I might even have some nightmares after playing this one - it's got some downright creepy scenery and scary monsters! But that still won't stop me!

Game developer Tomonobu Itagaki, creator of the Dead Or Alive series, teamed with Team NINJA to improve the engine from the original game. They have added in an auto-health regeneration system, new levels, adventures and weapons to help you guide Ryu Hayabusa on his mission to save all of mankind. Of course, he’s avenging his own people in the process, so count on some good revenge battles.

Here are some Ninja Gaiden II highlights from the Xbox team:

* Exhilarating ninja action. Assuming the role of a ninja warrior, players will experience an all-new combat system that requires skill and mastery of their full arsenal of weapons, including Obliteration Techniques that allow players to quickly and stylishly finish off an opponent. In addition to the variety of brutal new primary weapons and enhanced versions of previous favorites, Ninja Gaiden II will feature unique acrobatic combat and attacks used not only by Ryu Hayabusa but also by his formidable enemies.

* Easy to play but hard to master. The new auto-healing system in Ninja Gaiden II, featuring semi-permanent damage restored at save points, is the natural evolution of the franchise's distinctive gameplay and introduces a new twist to managing health.

With a newly implemented auto-healing functionality and save-point system, as well as an extensive story mode and multiple levels of difficulty available from the start of the game, the gameplay of Ninja Gaiden II will be accessible to more casual players and challenging to even the most demanding gamers.

* Massive content and engrossing story. The themes of revenge and friendship in Ninja Gaiden II give rise to a series of dramatic events to create a truly compelling story. From Tokyo to New York and to the netherworld, the story will lead players through a lengthy, action-packed story mode as they skillfully maneuver Ryu Hayabusa through a demonized world fraught with danger.

* Shared adventures over Xbox LIVE. The Ninja Cinema feature will allow gamers to record Ryu's combat exploits as movie clips on their Xbox 360. Players' favorite clips can be viewed at any time, and by coupling them with the black-and-white Akira Kurosawa-style video filter, they will be able to relive their adventures as though they were part of the traditional Japanese art form of the Samurai film.

The best Ninja Gaiden II players in the world will be able to upload their clips to Xbox LIVE for everyone to download and view, making this new Ninja Cinema feature a great way to accelerate the growth of the Ninja Gaiden II player community around the globe.

* Realistic graphics in next-generation gaming. Built from the ground up from Team NINJA's in-house gaming engine for the next-generation Xbox 360 platform, Ninja Gaiden II represents the best in amazing visuals, responsive control and thrilling combat with an extensive assortment of ninja weaponry.

GDC Special Gameplay Preview

For videos, wallpapers and more, go to the Ninja Gaiden II Experience page